Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Congress established Mesa Verde, meaning "green table" in Spanish, as
the first cultural park in the National Park System in 1906 to preserve
the notable cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan culture. The park
received greater recognition in 1978 when it was designated a World
Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations. Occupying part of a large
sandstone plateau rising above the Montezuma and Mancos valleys, Mesa
Verde National Park is 81 square miles, consisting of 52,122 acres and
rising more than 8,500 feet above sea level. Mesa Verde National Park
serves as a spectacular reminder of the 13 centuries-old Ancestral
Puebloan culture by preserving hundreds of dwellings and artifacts.
"Mesa Verde is a jewel of our National Park system that celebrates the
extraordinary beauty and diversity of that region and our nation," said
Secretary Danzig. "The real richness of Mesa Verde and that of our
country's naval service, however, lies in the people -- the remarkable
legacy of their past and a future with great promise. The naming of the
USS Mesa Verde establishes a strong and fundamental link between this
nation and those who serve and truly value that bond."
Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt expressed his support.
"Congratulations to Secretary Danzig and the Department of the Navy.
“The Department of Interior is especially appreciative that
Navy named the third amphibious transport dock ship after Mesa Verde,"
said Babbitt. "Naturally, we find the name choice excellent because it
honors early American culture as well as the first national park
created to preserve cultural history. It seems somehow fitting to name
a state-of-the-art ship with a name connoting timeless cultural values
The archeological sites found in Mesa Verde are some of the most
notable and best preserved in the United States. Mesa Verde National
Park offers visitors a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral
Pueblo people. Scientists study the ancient dwellings of Mesa Verde, in
part, by making comparisons between the Ancestral Pueblo people and
their contemporary indigenous descendants who still live in the
Southwest today. Twenty-four Native American tribes in the southwest
have an ancestral affiliation with the sites at Mesa Verde.